At Save the Mothers, we believe in the power of the individual donation, so we encourage people young and old to get creative in their ideas about how to raise funds that can be used to improve the health of vulnerable women and children. Hundreds of individuals are gearing up to Take Steps to Deliver Change this month, asking friends and family members to sponsor them when they do so. Just before Save the Mothers’ executive director Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese and her family moved permanently back to Canada, the Froese children (pictured above beginning second-from-left Liz, John and Hannah) did a lovely thing, expressing – at personal cost – their desire to come alongside the Save the Mothers’ mission. Blogger Anne Cameron invites you to read her story below, and then to reflect on what you might do to participate in our mission also.
The power of the piggy bank
Growing up, I treasured my glassy, bright pink piggy bank. It sat on top of my bookshelf as the focal point of the room. Beyond its cheeky smile and attractive color, my piggy bank served as more than just a collection of loose change and worn, crumpled up dollar bills. It was a symbol of hard work, encompassing all of the times that my effort and drive were rewarded with a small monetary value. The pride and joy that came with placing a coin into the small slit accompanied by the satisfaction of shaking the chunk of change reminded me of the value of saving money as a kid.
I was reminded of that childhood memory during a recent Monday morning meeting. The Froese children — Liz (13), John (11), and Hannah (11) surprised the Save the Mothers team less than a week before their permanent departure back to Canada. Beyond their surprise visit, the siblings had come to present a gift: a collection of their savings ($129 CDN), which together they had agreed to donate to Save the Mothers.
While many would have been counting the contents of their piggy to save for a new bike, the latest toy, or something sweet to bite into, the Froese kids had a different vision for how to spend their money, a vision, some might argue, that was wise beyond their years.
Testament to the value of a mother
The gift is a testament to the value of a mother. While a new dress for Liz, a new pair of shoes for Hannah, and a shiny soccer ball for John could have easily depleted their savings, those items would eventually have been outgrown and replaced. Mothers, on the other hand, cannot be outgrown. Mothers cannot be replaced. Mothers cannot be measured in a dollar amount. The value to their children, to their family, to their community, and to their country goes beyond the donation of $129 CDN.
In a country, Uganda, that considers the death of mothers in childbirth as being a natural part of life, one could argue that mothers are valued less here than my own mother, who gave birth to me in a Global North country. While government leaders and community members have made great strides in recognizing the importance of mothers, the Froese children’s contribution offers a thoughtful reminder of the importance of choosing carefully how we spend our personal money.
Although a relatively small monetary contribution, the impact of their gift was huge. The money was evenly divided between seven mothers who were recovering from fistula surgery, which is a life-threatening complication that can result when mothers experience obstructed labor. Midwives, who work around the clock to care for these patients, also benefitted from the children’s gift, as a way of recognizing and empowering them in their efforts to provide quality care for mothers.
Gift sparks gratitude and joy
Dr. Justus, renowned fistula surgeon and academic coordinator at Save the Mothers, presented the contribution to the mothers. I watched their blank faces change with color and light, capturing refreshing and genuine beauty. Their response was gratitude and joy, flowing out of the knowledge that three young strangers had recognized their worth and generously acted upon it.
The surprise visit from the Froese children captured the gift of giving in simplicity and beauty. Whether it’s the value of a mother, the impact of a small contribution, or the intentionality of how we spend our money, we can all learn from Liz, John, and Hannah’s actions in emptying out their piggy bank.